Monday, September 29, 2014

This Is Not a Little Story About the Male's Inherent Corruption, Using as Evidence the Swan's Sleazy Definition of Poetry

We were in Politics and Prose Friday night. It's a very cool bookstore - an amazing fiction wall, a decent poetry row. It's a very silly bookstore - bad singer-songwriters in their twenties and thirties wearing hemp vests and straw fedoras sang bad original songs in the coffeeshop. I held in my hand the new paperback edition of Pynchon's Inherent Vice. Bleeding Edge.I am halfway through my biennial reading of Gravity's Rainbow, it's going excellently - for one thing, I've made the discovery that my eyes don't tire nearly as fast if I'm reading on the iPad rather than a book; for another, the novel is amazing, as timely today as ever, especially on the profits and motives of those waging war. It was just over a year ago that Inherent Vice Bleeding Edge was published. I bought it the first day I could, of course, and after four starts I still can't get past page seventy-five. I briefly thought about downloading it through Kobo (cause fuck Amazon whenever possible), then realized who was thinking this and wised up. All this mentioned - it hadn't occurred to me to write about being in Politics and Prose on Friday - because someone is making a movie out of Inherent Vice? and Pynchon is going to make a cameo appearance? And will I go see it?

UPDATE! Charlie (not Slowes; he's down below calling the last out of yesterday's no-hitter) correctly points out that I'm a moron, the paperback I held in my hands was Bleeding Edge, not Inherent Vice, which I did read start to finish and enjoy, I remember reading it when we were on a Planet college tour, the New England one, I remember reading it in a hotel room in Lebanon New Hampshire the night after we visited Middlebury. And Charlie, don't start w/V, I think it's, besides Bleeding Edge, start with either Gravity's Rainbow or Against the Day.


Louise Gluck

On a small lake off
the map of the world, two
swans lived. As swans,
they spent eighty percent of the day studying
themselves in the attentive water and
twenty percent ministering to the beloved
other. Thus
their fame as lovers stems
chiefly from narcissism, which leaves
so little leisure for
more general cruising. But
fate had other plans: after ten years, they hit
slimy water; whatever the filth was, it
clung to the male’s plumage, which turned
instantly gray; simultaneously,
the true purpose of his neck’s
flexible design revealed itself. So much
action on the flat lake, so much
he’s missed! Sooner or later in a long
life together, every couple encounters
some emergency like this, some
drama which results
in harm. This
occurs for a reason: to test
love and to demand
fresh articulation of its complex terms.
So it came to light that the male and female
flew under different banners: whereas
the male believed that love
was what one felt in one’s heart
the female believed
love was what one did. But this is not
a little story about the male’s
inherent corruption, using as evidence the swan’s
sleazy definition of purity. It is
a story of guile and innocence. For ten years
the female studied the male; she dallied
when he slept or when he was
conveniently absorbed in the water,
while the spontaneous male
acted casually, on
the whim of the moment. On the muddy water
they bickered awhile, in the fading light,
until the bickering grew
slowly abstract, becoming
part of their song
after a little longer.


  1. Yes, and the fact that it's Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master, There Will Be Blood, et al.) means the Pynchon movie is a must-see. I read the book. It's in his lighter vein. But it should be a fun movie, a laugh riot. Kudos for doing GR again and again.

    Shame about D.G. Myers. Had a few tangles with him back in the day...

  2. i've never read gravity's rainbow, or anything else by pynchon, and a helpful reader at amazon suggests starting with v.

    a proofreading point - although 'inherent vice' the movie will be released soon, the pynchon novel which came out a year ago is 'bleeding edge'